ROCK SPRINGS — Rock Springs poet Rick Kempa and eight student writers from Western Wyoming College will read original work at two upcoming events at local libraries. On Thursday, April 24 at the Rock Springs Community Fine Arts Center, Kempa will read with Marilynn Noble, Rebecca Noel, and Debbie Reed. On Tuesday, April 29 at the Sweetwater County Library in Green River, Bruce Anderson, Susannah Hafner, Christina Lorenz, Carolyn Malson, and Katiee Richardson will join him. Both events will begin at 7 p.m. and are free.
The writers are all members of a Creative Writing Poetry class offered at Western Wyoming College this spring. According to Kempa, the instructor of the course, “They have each produced lively and engaging work that they are excited to share. There’s a poetry renaissance going on in Sweetwater County, no doubt about it, and these writers are living proof.”
The reading also marks the publication of Kempa’s latest book of poems, Ten Thousand Voices, released in 2013 by Littoral Press in Oakland. Many of the poems depict wild places of the West that Kempa, an avid backpacker, has visited, including Grand Teton and Grand Canyon national parks, where he has been hiking since the early 1970s. Peter Anderson, author of First Church of the Higher Elevations, writes, “I will return to the book as I might to a favorite backcountry camp. It serves as a map toward a life well lived, on which you will notice some trail notes: get up early, be surprised, explore forbidden places, enjoy the thirst as much as the water, honor common creatures, walk slowly, make tea, sit still.”
Other poems in the book explore human landscapes, some familiar, others wild in their own way. Colorado poet and editor Maria Melendez, says: “While remaining ever-oriented to the earth, he also manages to return compassion to the tangles of relations in our societies and families. These poems remind us that our soul is continually called forth, as much by the surge of creeks as by the pull of love, hurt, misunderstanding, and connection.”
The two events are in celebration of National Poetry Month, which takes place in April of each year. “We wanted to do something to demonstrate that modern poetry is an energetic, vital art form that concerns itself with real people, places, and events,” Kempa said. “I can guarantee that anyone who is able to come to one of these readings will be surprised and moved.”